From Alzheimer's to planning for humanity
Imprisoned not destroyed
My husband died of Parkinson’s disease at the age of fifty-five. He also had mild Alzheimer’s. While this combination is common in the old, it is unusual in the middle-aged.
In his last two years of life, he was bedridden and unable to move. For most of that time, he could do no more that raise his eyebrows – an action he used for ‘Yes’, leading to my having to rephrase questions when he made no response at all, so that I knew the difference between ‘No’ and ‘You’ve asked the wrong question’.
He was able to stay at home, with me as his principle carer but supplemented by plenty of practical professional help. Although his mind clearly deteriorated gradually (unfortunately what he perceived sometimes caused him considerable distress), I am sure that the real Chris was still there.
I never had any doubt that he was imprisoned by the illness, not destroyed by it.
Dorothy Jerrome (8 June) considers the problem that sufferers from Alzheimer’s/dementia may experience in the afterlife. She makes helpful comments. However, there is a strong body of evidence that suggests that what I would call the spiritual self detaches itself from the damaged brain/mind complex, returning to its original pristine state before going on to the next stage following the body’s death.
Eben Alexander, a respected surgeon and himself a recoverer from a deep coma, reports in his books that pre-death sudden lucidity is well known.
For example, in The Map of Heaven we read that the aunt of one contributor had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. For a year she had not recognised her son or daughter, and could not remember the name of her husband.
The day before her death she had a ‘burst’ of sudden lucidity: ‘She was clear and no longer confused, telling us stories about her life that made sense to us.’
Bold it may be, but if we extrapolate from the examples given by Eben Alexander we have the comfort of knowing that we can look forward to ‘passing on’ with all cognitive clouds removed. To a greater or lesser measure that would apply to us all.
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